It’s no secret there are forces on a mission to re-write not only the history of our great republic, but the Christian roots of its beginnings as well. I’ve written pages about revisionism as well as the vile campaigns to force validate if you will, all “the enemy” is promoting as the new norm. I’ve also been a voice in the wind about how “equality” has never been the intention of certain vocal “groups”, but rather validation without recourse or debate is now the stated goal. You must accept the lifestyles of others or be branded a bigoted racist, sexist, homophone, xenophobe, etc, etc… You get the point.
Truth is my friends in Christ, is that we’re witnessing the slow and steady dismantling of all that has made our nation great and the forces aligned against us are relentless in their pursuit of a life absent even the slightest hint of accountability or God. Moreover, the enemy absolutely must have your favorable approval or else.
Anyway, when I was a boy I remember learning the boundaries of this life God has given me, the do’s and don’ts that would set my moral compass true North. Lord knows I didn’t always get it right, however the common-sense principles and value sets I learned along the way allowed for the strength and course correction that would bring me to where I am today. Decency, honor, integrity and other truths which in the end were/are non-negotiable were taught at home, but also in schools and by teachers, who even took great pride in teaching them. But I also learned them on the ball fields and in the woods and on the waters where I grew up. Being outside with friends and enjoying all that God created was where I was most content. This is still true today. There were also the clubs and organizations where a young boy enjoyed the guidance and wisdom of like-minded elders in the field, while coming to understand the benefits of a disciplined approach to individual as well as team achievement.
Dating back to the early 20th Century, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was one of these groups and championed the right of passage from boyhood to young man by way of a (God) and country, structured style approach to the outdoors, to include scouting, camping, shooting and a many other activities, with achievement and merit being the signature paths to advancement within the group. Accordingly, one also learned of honor, integrity and team work which are the hallmarks of a man’s successful life. The Girl Scouts would follow, and for decades these organizations, with their uniforms and collective finger salutes came to define growing up in a free country. They were, (and still are) a big part of our culture. Much has changed over the years however and “the oath” as we remember it is in question. Corporate sponsors under pressure to embrace so-called “diversity”, have disseminated that pressure upon the organizations they support. And the Boy Scouts are not immune. (“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”)
Cut to the early 21st Century…
Politics has found a home in the front offices of the Boy Scouts, leading to unprecedented changes which have (in my view) tarnished a once proud heritage and threatened the core of what being a BOY scout is all about. Heck, there are even “girls” in the “Boy” Scouts now. Does that mean we don’t need the Girl Scouts any longer? Because I’m sure gonna miss those cookies…
All kidding aside, today’s ideologically charged and politically correct atmosphere have ushered in an era of “change”, not necessarily for the better. And in the end, the forces arrayed against the Judeo-Christian and fundamentally sound principles which made our nation great will continue their pursuit of a new nation, one that looks nothing like what our forefathers left to us. So, what are we freedom and God loving Americans, who want our children to experience the goodness of America, by way of the values and traditions of their parents, grandparents and even great grandparents supposed to do?
Well, that’s a loaded question to be sure. Maybe we can start by re-evaluating why we allow our children to participate in organizations like the Boy Scouts? Not necessarily in a disparaging way, but what is it we hope for them to come away with at the end of the day. What values do they gather from the experience if you will? For my part, when it comes to my son, “God and my country” are a huge part of what my wife and I as parents instill in him at home, and we look for those tenets in everything we allow him to participate in.
Enter “Trail Life USA” (TLUSA), a church based and Christ-centered outdoor adventure, leadership, and character development ministry. This sorely needed ministry which has all the look and feel of a scouting organization, complete with all the necessary outdoor alternatives to an afternoon playing video games, has put God back into “God and my country” with their own oath: “On my honor, I will do my best, to serve God and my country, to respect authority, to be a good steward of creation, and to treat others as I want to be treated”. Sounds good! But they also throw in a “vision to be the premier national character development organization for young men producing Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens”. And in keeping with the organizations Christ Centered approach, Colossians 1:10 “… that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…”
I had the pleasure to speak with TLUSA’s Maryland Point Man & North East Regional Team Leader Keith Wawrzyniak recently, and he brought me up to date on the latest with TLUSA. The 70-year-old saved volunteer and BSA Life Scout descended of Eagle Scouts is a married and retired father of two grown children and is passionate about TLUSA. Having been affiliated with American Heritage Girls, Inc., a similar and sort of prelude to TLUSA for girls, Keith immediately embraced the challenges associated with a startup organization comprised entirely of volunteers and rooted in the church.
Keith explained right out of the gate that TLUSA is unapologetic about its “Christ centered” approach and that while the ministry provides logistical, informational support, program materials and the like, your local church administers the program, as well as owns and operates the actual “Troop”. All are welcome as “Trailmen” in TLUSA, but there is no bending of their statement of faith or mission. “The adventure, character, and leadership focus of Trail Life USA attracts boys and their families and keeps them active for years to come. Parents love the character and leadership training. Boys love the adventure and the robust awards program! And at a time when the sad reality is, only 6 percent of American 9 to 13-year-olds play outside on their own during a typical week, with kids spending half as much time outdoors as they did just a generation ago, getting our young men back into the field could not be more important. (I still remember the street lights “directive” and I exhausted every sliver of light that I could from those days). It’s also worth noting here, that even families who don’t know God are forming life-long bonds and being drawn into a relationship with Christ”. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about??
Keith also told me that he was involved with BSA for many years and has many fond memories. He still believes that much good has and does come from BSA, but that like many organizations in this politically charged environment we’re living in, “we lost the (inclusiveness) vote because of outside and more specifically, corporate sponsor pressure” and I whole heartedly agree.
Keith and I talked about how boys need to be boys and girls need to be girls and why it’s important that they have separate organizations with different structures which allow them to grow in their faith and experiences without distraction. Keith added that while the ministry is not denominationally specific, all who would be affiliated with TLUSA must adhere to a Trinitarian center of faith, as well as attend youth protection training.
One thing Keith and I lamented on was the secular darkness which seems to hang like a dark curtain over the North East states and how difficult it’s been to establish a foothold there. My pastor and I also talk of the faith void in New England often as we contemplate the impact of the church in our area. Keith actually operates out of Baltimore and explained that TLUSA is a national effort with 786 troops across 49 states in nearly 800 churches, with nearly 25000 Trailmen, but that Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York have limited troops. Oh, and guess which one state has no troops at all. Yup, Rhode Island. Doesn’t surprise me a bit…
So at the end of the day, Keith emphasized the need for a New England outreach, hence the reason for this article today. I for one can see that need first hand. As I’ve said many times, all that we have, all that we are and all that we will ever be in this life is in the hearts and souls of our children. They are a looking glass into our national and worldly aspirations. And if we have any inclination, as our forefathers did, to leave a better nation and world to our posterity, then we had better embrace ministries like TLUSA and the Christ Centered message they offer. For in today’s United States, Godly and morally sound options appear more and more limited. Every day we see the forces arrayed against God and the accountability of a morally rooted existence, attempting to make roads into every aspect of our lives. Moreover, it’s our children who are the targets.
So if you’ve been concerned about your children’s future, and would like to have them be part of something special, then TLUSA may be what you’re looking for. And if your church is looking for an alternative or addition to youth group, that will guide “future generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity and serve others”, all while experiencing an outdoor adventure which is sure to challenge and excite them, then TLUSA is a great option. Additionally, if you’re a person who fosters a Trinitarian belief system and is searching for God’s plan for you, He may have made it plain to you by way of this article. You can find all that you need to get started with your own troop at your own church at this website, www.startatroop.com.
Remember folks, and more specifically you men of Christ, there is no better way to have an impact on a young boy’s life than to take him into the outdoors and train him up in the ways of Christ and all God has created for him. Mentoring and training up young boys to be truly successful in this life, and to resist the foolishness of terms like “toxic masculinity”, as well as other imbecilic attempts to guilt boys concerning their future roles as honorable husbands, fathers and family foundations, is something you may wear proudly as the highest badge of honor in any Christ centered church. And frankly, doing it by a campfire under the stars after a day in the woods, fields and streams of God’s earth, is something they will take with them the rest of their days, I promise you…
For additional information please call (321) 247-7761 or visit their website at www.traillifeusa.com. Support Trail Life USA by making your check payable to Trail Life USA and mail to: Trail Life USA, Legacy Gift, 10612 Augusta Rd., Belton, SC 29627 or donate on line.